Four books that made me fall in love with science

There seems to be a misconception that we STEM kids can’t read. That we’re too engrossed in our mathematical proofs and cell cultures to find them between two pages of a book in Bird’s hand. From my interactions with several STEM majors, I’d like to call this idea a cap.

The “Health and Science” section of every library is often mistakenly referred to as a kind of “Mt. Sinai” of knowledge. The omniscient scientists pass on their tables of knowledge in dainty, simplified forms for the pea-brained populace to digest easily. On the contrary, academic writing is about engaging everyone in the pursuit of knowledge, regardless of their chosen career path. For example, in high school, I met a veterinarian from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who quoted The hot zone by Richard Preston to kick-start her career. Likewise, my roommate has just finished Maybe you should talk to someone and is currently considering changing majors.

I probably wouldn’t be in Hopkins if it weren’t for the shelf of science books tucked away in my town’s small public library. Below are some books that I believe have changed or are currently changing the course of my life. I hope you have as much fun exploring these as I have.

1. The killers inside

It’s weird to say you won a book, but, well, me won this book at a Model UN conference in my sophomore year of high school. There was an odd rationale that knowledge was more important than trophies, blah blah. I guess it turned out to be true.

The killers inside covers the rise of drug-resistant microbes around the world, in addition to the scientists doing their best to stop it. I’ll be honest the tone is a bit somber (don’t read this if you’re already wondering what the meaning of life is), but it’s also utterly captivating.

I distinctly remember starting a new chapter in my English II class and meeting a young CDC officer investigating an outbreak in the Midwest. It was like I could see her typing notes on the laptop in her hotel room. That was one of my first “I could do that” moments. I’ve had an interest in health sciences before, but I never saw myself as the chief honcho type. But this woman was a chief honcho, and she was not a 75-year-old man. That was in the same semester that I was transferring from a large public high school to a STEM high school. I ended up writing an entire love letter to this book because of the impact it had on my life, so I can’t stress enough how much I loved it.

2. A song of praise for Leibowitz

A year after reading it The killers inside, this book was assigned to me at the MINT-Gymnasium that I switched to. Even our English classes were science based; This semester we discussed the humanity behind the discovery Frankenstein and Bradbury. To be honest I didn’t enjoy this book when I read it, but I felt like I appreciate it the most when I think about it now.

This fictional work is set sometime in the future, six hundred years after nuclear fallout destroyed modern society as we know it. A Catholic monastery in the American Southwest has formed in an effort to slowly gather traces of what knowledge has in some ways been lost. We see the monastery evolve along with the society around it over the course of several hundred years, while clashing with newly founded empires over the role of technology in war and medicine. As someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about my religion, this book has helped me see the complementary but complicated identities I have as both a scientist and a Christian.

3. I contain a variety

Audio books count too. I heard this book while hiking through Park City, Utah, the summer before freshman year at Hopkins. I had just received the infamous email from housing management that I was going to experience a freshman fall at my parents’ home due to COVID-19. This also meant that I was not able to start my microbiology laboratory in practice as planned.

As The killers inside, I contain a variety is about microbes. However, the tone is much less somber. Author Ed Yong wows you with the idea that you yourself contain an entire ecosystem of bacteria. You’ll know the writing is good when you delve into the chapter that describes stool transplants. The smooth narration and beautiful language describing microscopic organisms contrasted perfectly with my views of massive trees and rugged mountain ranges. Although I was disappointed that I would not be doing personal research this semester, this book reminded me of the science that was all around me.

4. The heroine with 1001 faces

This book isn’t strictly a science book, but I believe it speaks to women scientists on a unique level. I’m not someone who sticks to books; I feel bad seeing them unopened on a shelf for years. This book is different. I’ve taken it with me to three moves. Even though I’ll never read it cover to cover again, I still enjoy just turning it to the top the chapter or simply the Side.

You may have heard of Joseph Campbell The Hero’s Journey, which presents this idea that every hero from Achilles to Luke Skywalker has a similar story structure. However, Campbell also says that this does not apply to women in literature. Maria Tatar responds with her own confrontation with folklore heroines who save the day not despite but because of their femininity.

This book explores curiosity as a trait that women throughout history have used to impart valuable knowledge to their communities and ultimately to strive for social justice. Tartar cites countless examples, from Nancy Drew’s detective skills to the modern day #MeToo movement. While science is often seen as a “historically” male-dominated field, Tartar reminded me that curiosity and discovery are also “historically” female. These are activities that women have been doing long before they were allowed into universities and laboratories. So I hope it will be useful for any female scientist who needs role models Besides that Marie Curie.

While I could go on for longer, I’ll end this article with the caution these books made me fall in love with science but maybe not the same for she. I wouldn’t say that this piece recommends any of the above books, but rather that you’ll find the books that will make you fall in love with your field, whether you study biomedical engineering or psychology. Reach out to friends, browse Goodreads, or ask the staff at Greedy Reads for a recommendation. You are just one step away from falling into something new.

Ellie Rose Mattoon is a junior from Austin, Texas, majoring in molecular and cellular biology and public health.

The goal of SciPinions is to offer students the opportunity to present their opinions on debates in the fields of science, technology or health. The opinions expressed in this post do not represent the opinion of The newsletter.

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